PETALING JAYA (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK, REUTERS) - All those returning to Malaysia from overseas will have to undergo their mandatory quarantine at hotels or quarantine centres starting from Friday (July 24), said Senior Minister for Security Ismail Sabri Yaakob.
Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri, who is also Defence Minister, said this requirement applies to both Malaysians and non-citizens who have been allowed to enter the country.
Under current rules, returnees who test negative for the coronavirus upon arrival in the country are allowed to serve their mandatory 14-day quarantine at home. But this option will no longer be available from Friday.
Mr Ismail Sabri, who was speaking at a press conference on Tuesday, said those arriving from Friday will have to bear the full cost of their quarantine at hotels and government centres.
The new requirement comes amid rising Covid-19 infection numbers after Malaysia eased its shutdown measures on June 10, allowing businesses and most social activities to resume but with social distancing protocols in place.
Recently, five cases were detected in the "Novgorod cluster", which originated from a Malaysian who had returned from Russia on July 5. He had tested negative for the virus on arrival, but two days later began displaying symptoms of the disease such as fever and breathing difficulties.
A second test for the disease turned up positive, and one of his family members also later tested positive for Covid-19.
Mr Ismail Sabri said the police will no longer just give advice and issue warnings to those who flout social distancing rules under the recovery phase of the country's movement control order (MCO).
"Many people seem to assume that there are no laws in place, as if the MCO has ended," he said.
"The police have made a decision that there will be no more warnings and advice. They will take stern action on anyone who violates the MCO," he added.
On Monday, the police detained 80 individuals for violating the MCO - 20 of whom were remanded, four released on police bail and 56 issued compounds.
He said that 37 people were detained for activities at pubs or nightclubs, while 43 were detained for activities that made it difficult for social distancing measures to be observed.
The minister said that nightclubs were still not allowed to reopen under the recovery MCO and added that the local authorities would increase enforcement activities on nightclubs, including suspending their licences.
"The government hopes the public will keep on being the eyes and ears for the authorities in reporting any instances where standard operating procedures have been violated," he said.
The number of new Covid-19 cases has risen by double digits in the past few days, sparking fears of a fresh wave of infections.
The Malaysian health authorities recorded 21 new coronavirus cases on Monday, lifting the total since the outbreak began to 8,800 cases and 123 deaths.
Monday was the third straight day of double-digit rise in infections, after the country managed to broadly hold daily growth to single digits since movement controls were eased on June 10. The number of positive cases had climbed by 15 on Sunday, and by 18 two days prior.